Facebook Targets IoT Developers With New SDKs

Facebook extended its Parse Internet of things line of SDKs with new ones supporting Atmel, Broadcom, Intel and TI hardware.

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Facebook announced it has expanded its Parse for IoT toolkit with new SDKs supporting additional platforms for Internet of things (IoT) app development.

With this expansion of the Parse for IoT SDK line announced at Facebook's F8 developer conference in March, developers can now build even more connected devices with Parse, using new dedicated SDKs for Atmel, Broadcom, Intel and TI hardware.

Developers can now build apps for Atmel's SAM D21 + WINC1500, TI's CC3200, Intel's Edison or Broadcom's WICED and connect to the Parse cloud in minutes, with just a few lines of code, Damian Kowalewski, a Facebook software engineer, wrote in a blog post.

Kowalewski called IoT one of the most exciting new platforms for app development, but he said IoT poses new challenges for developers as "many IoT devices also need to be personalized and paired with a mobile companion app." Parse is trying to simplify that process.

Facebook hopes to enable even more developers to build connected devices with Parse. "From a garage hacker's weekend project to a production-ready connected product, manufactured at scale—Parse can power them all," Kowalewski said.

At F8, Facebook started its new line of SDKs for connected devices, starting with an SDK targeted for the Arduino Yun microcontroller board.

In a blog post during F8, James Yu, co-founder of Parse, said he believes that connecting more hardware devices with the cloud has the potential to change the world for the better.

"We are already seeing devices that add tremendous value to people's lives, from wearables that help you sleep better to insulin trackers that aid people living with diabetes," he said. "But, as with mobile, connecting these devices to the cloud can be difficult. In addition to maintaining a backend, developers must contend with notoriously constrained environments on the client."

Facebook acquired Parse in 2013 with the notion of simplifying this process for developers.

"By making Parse a part of Facebook Platform, we want to enable developers to rapidly build apps that span mobile platforms and devices," Douglas Purdy, director of engineering at Facebook, who then was the social media giant's director of developer products, wrote in a post at the time of the acquisition. "Parse makes this possible by allowing developers to work with native objects that provide backend services for data storage, notifications, user management and more. This removes the need to manage servers and a complex infrastructure, so you can simply focus on building great user experiences."

Already, hundreds of apps for connected devices have been created with the new SDKs, Kowalewski said. "Our tools have been used to build exciting and diverse products like a farm-to-table growing system that lets farmers remotely control their equipment with an app (Freight Farms); a smart wireless HiFi system that syncs music, lighting and more (Musaic); and even a smart BBQ smoker that can sense when meat is perfectly done (Trignis)," he said. "Here at Parse, we had fun building a connected car and a one-click order button."

Facebook said the Parse for IoT SDKs also have been used as teaching tools in several college courses.

Interested developers can download the new SDKs and access QuickStart guides here.